Thursday, December 15, 2011

Super Simple Butternut Squash Pasta

I love pasta, but I get bored of the same old pasta with marinara or tomato sauce all the time, so I decided to try something different. This is what I came up with.

Super Simple Butternut Squash Pasta
Makes 2-3 servings

16 oz Pacific Creamy Butternut Squash Soup
6 oz (dry) Wacky Mac Veggie Spirals
2 tbsp Corn Starch (mixed w/ water to make it liquidy)

Cook pasta as specified on the bag.

While the pasta is cooking, heat 16 oz of soup in a pan and add in the liquid corn starch and stir until soup becomes thicker*. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, salt & pepper to taste.

Drain pasta and then add to the butternut squash sauce. Stir and serve.

*If the sauce isn't thick enough, just add another tablespoon of corn starch (w/water) to the mix until it reaches the thickness you want.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cranberry Orange Relish

Hi everyone! I haven't abandoned Tracie Cooks, I've just taken a small hiatus. I do have a few new recipes to add and in honor of the holiday season, today I'm posting my mom's recipe for Cranberry Orange Relish. It's delicious, ridiculously simple and there's no cooking required!
"When I was growing up, my father always made home-made Cranberry-Orange Relish every Thanksgiving. Since he passed away, my husband and daughter have searched every store around to get the "right" kind of cranberry sauce for me (I cannot stand "jelly" cranberry sauce). This year, we got fresh cranberries and oranges and decided to recreate the sauce my father made!!! I was surprised that many of the on-line recipes had directions to "cook" ingredients. Well I made my father's version and to everyone's surprise, EVERYBODY liked it!!!! So here it is. Enjoy! ~Nancy"

Cranberry Orange Relish

1 12 ounce bag of fresh cranberries
1 Large pit less orange
1 cup of sugar (add SLOWLY to taste) [Try Splenda or Equal for lower calories]

Wash cranberries and put them in a food processor. Zest some of the orange peel and then cut the orange into eights and put them into the food processor. Add sugar and then pulse the mixture until it's a relish-like consistency. That's all there is to it!

Note: I have a 14 cup food processor, so you may need to make two batches - add half the amount of cranberries and orange segments at one time - to fit into yours.

Monday, May 2, 2011

No Bake Cashew Cheese Cake

I love to learn about all types of diets, so last week while I was looking for some information on the raw foods diet, I came across this recipe for a raw vegan cheesecake. It seemed so simple that I just had to give it a try. I made some changes to the original recipe, but it still came out great! It doesn't taste like a 'normal' cheesecake - it's definitely different -but it was still yummy! Next time, I'm thinking of adding fresh strawberries or blueberries to the filling for a bit of a variation :)

No Bake Cashew Cheese Cake
(Yields: 8 slices)

1 3/4 Quick Oats
25 Pitted Dates
Splash of water

1 Cup of Raw Cashews (soaked)
3 tbsp Lemon Juice
2 tbsp Vanilla Extract
2 tbsp Water
Agave Nectar (to taste - I used 2 tsp's)

Soak cashews overnight (or if you're in a hurry, for at least 3 hours)

Grind oats until they reach a flour like consistency. Add 10 dates and blend together. Once thoroughly mixed, add 10 more dates. Blend. Add the last 5 and blend. If mixture is a bit dry, add a splash of water to lightly moisten the mixture.

Scoop mixture into a dish 9" round dish and press down with your fingers to cover the bottom and sides of the dish.

For the filling, blend together cashews, lemon juice, agave nectar, vanilla extract and water until smooth, fluffy and thick. (add additional lemon juice, agave and vanilla as needed). Note: Be careful not to over blend or you may wind up with cashew butter!

Fill the crust with the filling and spread evenly. Freeze for an hour or refrigerate for a few hours to set.

 The pie should last a few days in the refrigerator. but you can also cut it into slices and freeze them.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Bananaloupe Smoothie

I buy a lot of fruit (and don't always get around to eating it) so the freezer has become my best friend. I have so many bags of frozen bananas, grapes, strawberries, apples and other fruits that I don't know what to do with them. A couple of  years back, I heard about Kris Carr and her love of green smoothies, so after seeing her documentary and reading her book, I was inspired to give them a try.

At first, I was a little put off by the idea of eating blended fruits and vegetables - especially spinach! - but they're actually really delicious and there are so many different kinds that you can come up with. Plus, they're good for you. :) Now that summers coming, they're the perfect thing to make!

I've made quite a few different concoctions, but haven't written any of them down, so I decided to start doing that now.

Bananaloupe Smoothie
(Makes about 32oz / or 1 or 2 servings)

1/4 of a cantaloupe
1 banana (frozen)
4 handfuls of spinach
6oz Original Almond Milk
drizzle of agave nectar
1/2 serving of Vanilla Soy Powder
3 ice cubes

Add two handfuls of spinach, almond milk, 1/2 banana to the blender. Blend until mixed. Add 1/2 the cantaloupe, blend. Add two more handfuls of spinach, blend. Add the other 1/2 of the cantaloupe, soy powder and agave nectar, blend. Add ice cubes, blend until smooth.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Easy Vegan Chili & Macaroni Salad

When I got home from work the other day, the last thing I wanted to do was cook but I also didn't feel like ordering out or heating up a pre-packaged meal, so I decided to give this a try. I was out with my cousin and she had suggested that I make this. It was so simple that I don't think I'll ever buy canned chili again.

Easy Vegan Chili
(Servings: About 3 - can be more less, depending on portion size)

1 - 15.5 oz Can of Light Kidney Beans (drained)
1 - 15.5 oz Can of Dark Kidney Beans (drained)
1 - 14.5 oz can of Hunt's Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes with Garlic
1 packet  of McCormick Chili Seasoning Mix
2/3 Can of Water (using the Hunts can)
1 tbsp Flour

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Portobello Pot Pie Turnovers with Roasted Radishes and Carrots

Watching the Food Network is dangerous. There's always something on there that looks so delicious that it just begs to be transformed into vegany goodness; this is one of those recipes. It may not be the healthiest of choices, but it sure is yummy - and who doesn't need some comfort food every once in a while?

Portobello Pot Pie Turnovers 
(Makes about 6 turnovers)

2 tbsp Butter (plus, a little extra, melted, to brush over the top of the pastry)
1 Onion, chopped
1 - 16 oz bag Baby Carrots, chopped (only chop 1/2 the bag)
2 Stalks of Celery, chopped
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
2 tbsp Garlic, minced
1 tsp Dried Thyme
3 tbsp Flour
1/2 cup Dry White Wine (I used Chardonnay)
1 Cup Stock (I used 1 Cup warm Water mixed with 1 tbsp Osem Chicken Style Consomme)
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
5 oz Baby Bella (Portobello) Mushrooms (about 1/2 a container)
1 1/2 Sheets Frozen Puff Pastry, thawed (I used Pepperidge Farm puff pasty)

Monday, March 28, 2011

The World’s Largest Bake Sale (in NYC)

If you're in the New York City area tomorrow, March 29th, head over to Vanderbilt Hall at Grand Central Terminal for "The World’s Largest Bake Sale", hosted by Sandra Lee (from the Food Network) with appearances by Emeril Lagasse, Rosanna Scotto (Goody Day NY) and Duff Goldman!

This fundraising event will benefit The Food Bank of New York and will feature sweet and savory baked goods from 30 of New York's most well-respected chefs and restaurants!

According to what Sandra said on Good Day New York this morning, each item is only $1 and every dollar you spend turns into $4 of food at the food bank! So head over there at lunch time (or after work) and load up on some yummy stuff! The event runs from 11:30am-7pm.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spicy Tofu Bean Patty

Last night, I was in the mood for something spicy so I came up with this recipe. It has a little kick but it's not overpowering. It would work well as a burger, without a bun or even for breakfast (like a sausage).

Spicy Tofu Bean Patty

1 pkg Firm Tofu (frozen, then thawed)
1 Can of Dark Red Kidney Beans (15.5 oz)
1 tbsp Flax Seed

1 Onion
1 Stalk Celery
3 Medium Mushrooms
1 tbsp garlic

4 tbsp Medium Salsa
1 1/2 tbsp Hot Sauce

Chili Powder
Garlic Powder
Cinnamon (only a dash)

1 1/2 Cups Quick Oats

Saute onion, celery, mushrooms and garlic in a frying pan with a little bit of olive oil until onions become translucent.

In a food processor, mix tofu, dark kidney beans and flax seed until well blended. Add onion, celery, mushroom and garlic mixture, blend some more.

Add a light layer of each spice (except cinnamon), covering the top of the mixture - one by one, pulsing in between each then add about 2 shakes of cinnamon.

Move the mixture to a bowl and then add quick oats and mash everything together with your hands.

Form mixture into balls and flatten (about the size of your palm). Spray the pan with cooking spray and cook over low-medium heat for about 4 minutes on each side until lightly browned.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Meatout 2011 / Super Simple Vegan French Toast

Happy Meatout 2011, everyone!

What is Meatout, you ask? Meatout is an international event where people pledge to give up animal products for the day. That's it! It's really easy and anyone can participate. Yes, even you. Be sure to check out the Meatout site for more information and click here to check out the blogs of all the other vegan bloggers, who are participating today and who will be offering some great tips and meal suggestions.

You can also head over to VegWeb for some great recipe ideas! Here's a simple and yummy, vegan breakfast idea to help get you started :)

I'm all about simplicity. I love cooking food that tastes great but is really easy to make. So when I went vegan, I was on a mission to hunt down a super simple french toast recipe - after all, the 'real' version only uses eggs, milk and bread - but it seemed that every one that I found called for so many 'fancy' ingredients that I figured that there had to be a simpler way which used things that I already had. And there is!

Vegan French Toast
(Servings: 1)

1/2 Cup Soy Milk
2 tbsp Flour
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 slices of Bread

Whisk together soy milk, flour, cinnamon and vanilla extract in a shallow bowl. Dredge bread through mixture, cook in a pan over medium heat until slightly browned. Flip over and cook on the other side until browned.

Instead of soy milk use coconut milk, rice milk, hazelnut milk or even soy nog to make 'egg nog' french toast during the holidays.
Instead of cinnamon, use other spices (ex. pumpkin pie spice mix)
Use other flavored extracts such as strawberry, coconut, orange, etc.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Homemade Flour Tortillas

Once you realize how easy it is to make tortillas at home, you'll never buy those packaged ones again!

There have been many times that I bought an entire package of tortillas, only used 1 or 2 and had the rest of the package go to waste. With this recipe, you can adjust it to make more or less and it uses ingredients that most people already have handy around the house.

And just think of all the different variations you can make - garlic & herb, oregano & basil, cinnamon & sugar, etc. Let your imagination go wild!

Homemade Flour Tortillas
(Servings: About 2 Tortillas)

1/2 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
3/4 tsp Vegan Butter or Vegetable Shortening
1/4 tsp Salt* (optional)
2 tbsp of Water

In a bowl, combine flour, salt and baking soda. Add butter (shortening) and cut it in with a fork. Add water and mix. If you need more water, add only a little at a time. Add enough water so that the dough sticks together but isn't sticky to the touch.

Form into 2 balls and - one at a time, on a lightly floured surface - flatten with the palm of your hand. Using a rolling pin, roll out into a circle until very thin.

Pre-heat a dry skillet for about a minute over medium heat and then place tortilla on the skillet. Heat for 30-45 seconds or until bubbles start to form and the edges start to pull up a bit. Flip tortilla over and cook for another 20-30 seconds.

*For a less salty tortilla, salt can be left out of the recipe.

Modified from the recipe found on Sprinkled with Flour.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Oatmeal Patties

I eat a lot of oatmeal, so sometimes it's nice to change thing up a bit. These oatmeal patties have such a nice crunch and texture that you feel like you're eating something 'bad' when really it's just as healthy as the stuff you eat in a bowl! It takes a little longer to make, but it's well worth it.

Oatmeal Patties
(servings: 1)

1/2 C Quick Oats
1 Cup Coconut Milk
3-4 tbsp Health Mix (nuts, grains, berries, etc.)
1 tbsp Maple Syrup
Non-Stick Spray

In a sauce pan, combine all ingredients and heat on medium heat until liquid is absorbed and oatmeal is lumpy.

Spray a frying pan with non-stick spray. Spoon oatmeal onto the pan and flatten out the lumps a bit with the back of the spoon. (you should get about 2 1/2 patties)

Cook on medium heat until golden brown. Plate, and then drizzle some more maple syrup on top.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Vegan Donuts Invade Your Tummy

When I have free time at work, I like to scour the internet for new recipes to try or draw inspiration from.

Lately, my focus has been on vegan baked goods (cupcakes, brownies, etc) because I'm hoping to pay my way through culinary school by selling them at local flea markets and farmers markets. I'm also looking to donate vegan baked goods to fund-raising events, in the Northern NJ, so if you know of any please let me know or have them contact me!

So yesterday, I came across this recipe for vegan donuts and it seemed so easy to make that I just had to give it a try! And then I had a thought; in my area, vegan donuts are nearly impossible to find - so adding donuts to the baked goods line up would be great.

I slightly modified the recipe from the original and I think that next time I might try using half whole wheat/ half all-purpose flour to make them a little healthier :)

Baked Vegan Donuts
(Makes 6 Large Donuts)

Dry Ingredients:
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1 tiny pinch or shake Cinnamon

Wet Ingredients:
1/2 Cup Plain Soymilk
1/2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
Egg Replacer for 1 egg (I used 2 tsp Ener-G Egg Replacer + 2 tbsp warm water)
4 tbsp Vegan Butter

Preheat oven to 350º F

In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients, with a whisk, and mix thoroughly.

Melt the butter (but try to keep it from getting too hot) and then in another bowl stir together all of the wet ingredients (including the melted butter). Add the wet ingrediants to the dry ingrediants and stir until just combined.

Using a tablespoon, spoon the mixture into an un-greased, nonstick donut pan - fill to just below the rim - and then smooth out the top of the dough with your fingers or the back of a small spoon.

Bake for 12 minutes.

You don't want the donuts to be browned on top but when inserted, a toothpick should come out clean.

Remove donuts from the pan by inverting them onto a cooling rack (or cutting board) and then let them cool before you decorate or fill them.

I made 3 donuts with holes and 3 donuts without holes: topped the holed donuts and one (1) of the non-holed donuts with confectioners icing and sprinkles. The other two (2) non-holed donuts I rolled in confectioners sugar and filled with chocolate buttercream icing

Your imagination is the limit when it comes to decorating, but for my testing purposes this is what I used. These recipes can also be modified for different flavors!

Confectioners' Icing
1 Cup Confectionser Sugar (sifted)
1-3 tsp Soy Milk (depending on how thick you like it, use more or less)

Mix together with a fork until it starts to form a paste.

Wilton's Buttercream Icing - Slightly modified and veganized.
(Makes about 3 cups of icing)

1/2 Cup Vegetable Shortening
1/2 Cup Vegan Butter
4 Cups Confectioners Sugar (sifted)
1 tsp vanilla extract (they specify clear, but I've used the regular stuff and it really doesn't effect the color all that much)
1 tbsp soy milk* (optional)

Beat together the shortening and the butter until well blended. Add in the confectioners' sugar and beat until fluffy. Then add the vanilla extract, beat until mixed, and then slowly drizzle in the soy milk*.

*The recipe calls for soy milk, but I find myself using very little of it or omitting it altogether.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Pineapple Raisin Coconut Rice

Looking for a way to spice up some plain old brown rice? Give this a try!

Pineapple Raisin Coconut Rice

1 small to medium onion (diced)
2 cups brown rice (uncooked)
1 can (13.5 oz) coconut milk
1 can (20 oz) Pineapple Chunks
1 1/2 cups Water
4 tbsp Raisins
1 tbsp curry
1 tsp turmeric
Salt & pepper to taste
Olive Oil (for sautéing)
2 1/2 tbsp of toasted coconut flakes*

Saute onions in a pan until clear.

Add brown rice, coconut milk, can of pineapple chunks (pineapple and juice), raisins, curry, tumeric, salt and pepper, water

Stir, bring to a boil and then lower the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes (or until the rice is cooked and there is no more liquid)

Add toasted coconut* and stir. Sprinkle some of top as a garnish if you like.

*To make toasted coconut - preheat over to 375 degrees and spread coconut flakes on a foil covered cookie sheet. Place in the oven and bake for about 5-7 minutes - or until coconut flakes are lightly browned.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

The other morning, I woke up craving banana muffins. When I went into the kitchen, I noticed that I had a few bananas, that were about to turn brown, and some dark chocolate chips so I decided to whip up a batch of banana chocolate chip muffins. They tasted amazing and definitely got rid of my craving :)

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
(Makes 5 Large Muffins)

1 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Quick Oats (Quaker)
1 Cup Sugar
1 Tbsp Butter
2 medium/large bananas (mashed)
1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
3/4 Tsp Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
1/4 Tsp Salt
1/2 Cup Dark Chocolate Chips (I used Kona Kava but you can use semi-sweet)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Combine all of the ingredients and stir together until dry ingredients are thoroughly mixed in.

Spray large muffin tin with cooking spray (olive oil or vegetable oil) and then fill each cup, using an ice cream scoop, about 3/4 full.

Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out almost clean.

I'd like to get your feedback: If you've made any of the recipes I've posted, how did they turn out?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Breakfast Brown Rice Mix

Ever wonder what to do with that leftover rice that you get when you order Chinese take-out? Try using the next morning for breakfast! This is a quick and simple meal that gives you a break from the typical oatmeal but is still just as filling.

Breakfast Brown Rice Mix

1/2 Cup of Cooked Brown Rice (I prefer brown, but white works too)
1/4 Cup Soy Milk
2 Tbsp Health Mix (or any type of fruit/nut mix)
1 Tbsp Sugar Free Maple Syrup (or pure maple syrup)
Cinnamon (to taste)

In a pan, mix together cooked rice, soy milk, health mix, maple syrup and cinnamon.

Heat on medium to low heat until the soy milk bubbles a bit, scoop into a bowl and sprinkle a little extra cinnamon on top.

The mixture may be a little milky still so if you prefer a less milky version, let it sit in the bowl for a few minutes and the rice will soak up some of the soy milk.

(Inspired by the Healthy Brown Rice Breakfast recipe on

Friday, January 28, 2011

"Pepperoni" Pizza

Why order a plain, non-cheese veggie pizza from a pizzeria when you can make this delicious, and ridiculously easy, version in about 20 minutes at home?

"Pepperoni" Pizza

1 Premade Whole Wheat Crust
1 Small Jar of Ragu Tomato Sauce
1 Box of Lightlife Smart Deli® Pepperoni
1 Bag of Daiya Mozzarella Style Shreds
Olive Oil (to brush the crust)

Preheat over to 375°F.

Place the pizza crust on a baking sheet and brush with olive oil.

Spoon sauce onto the crust and cover with a layer of pepperoni.

Cover the sauce and pepperoni, thoroughly, with mozzarella cheese and then add another layer of pepperoni to top it off.

Place on the bottom rack of the oven and cook for about 15-20 (or until the cheese gets melty and the crust is slightly browned.)

Note: If you can't find lightlife or daiya in your area, Yves Meatless Pepperoni and Tofutti Mozzarella Slices are good substitutes.

Servings: About 8 Slices (dependent on the size of the crust)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Vegetable Bean Soup

I wanted to make vegetable soup, but was feeling lazy and didn't want to drive all the way to the farmers market to get fresh veggies, so I went to the supermarket and decided to try using frozen. They worked great; I couldn't even tell the difference and it was absolutely delicious.

What makes this soup even better is that it was so inexpensive and easy to make! I got the bags of vegetables on sale, so the entire pot of soup only cost me about $5 and will easily feed me for days. I know that I've spent that much on a 1 cup of "homemade" soup from a store or 2 cans of soup, so it's definitely worth it to make your own sometimes.

Vegetable Bean Soup

3 Bags of Frozen Vegetables (12-16oz) [I used Shoprite's Steam in Bag Asian Stirfry, California Blend (Broccoli, Cauliflower & Carrots) and Peas]
1 bag (16 oz) Goya 16 Bean Soup Mix
1 Red Onion
2 Stalks of Celery
1 tbsp minced garlic
Olive Oil (for sautéing)
4 Quarts (16 cups) of water mixed with Osem Chicken Style Consomme [or 4 Quarts of any other type of broth]
  • Bay leaf
  • Old Bay
  • Oregano
  • Basil
  • Cinnamon
  • Allspice
  • Salt & Pepper (to taste)
*Note: At one point, I just started adding different spices and seasonings without writing any of them down. I don't know the exact measurements - and I may have forgotten a spice or two - so just use this list as a guideline. Experiment and decide what tastes good to you!

Before you begin, make sure you rinse the beans.

Saute the onions in a stock pot until they start to turn clear, then add the celery and saute a few minutes longer. Add garlic, stir a few times.

Add the 3 bags of frozen vegetables and the bag of beans.

Add the vegetable broth or water. Bring to a boil.
[Note: If you are using the consomme, add the powder after you bring the water to a boil.]

Add the spices and then stir a few times to mix everything together.

Reduce the heat to simmer [low/medium heat] and cover.

Let the soup simmer for an hour to an hour and a half. When the beans are cooked, the soup is done.
[Note: I let the soup sit on the stove for a few hours after it was done to let the flavors blend together a bit longer.]

Don't forget to remove the bay leaf before serving.

Servings: You'll probably be eating it for the next couple of weeks.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Split Chickpea Soup

Happy New Year, everyone! I did quite a bit of cooking over the holidays, but didn't have enough time to document anything, so I took a bit of a hiatus but now I'm back. And come bearing gifts of a new soup recipe!

Winter is the perfect time for soup and I've been on such a huge split pea soup kick lately, that I decided to come up with my own version, but with a bit of a variation.

Split Chickpea Soup

16 oz Bagged Beans (8 oz Split Peas / 8 oz Chick Peas)
6 Cups Water (Plus a few more cups - optional)
6 tsp Chicken Style Consomme (I used Osem)
1 Red Onion (chopped)
2 Stalks of Celery (chopped)
1 1/2 tsp Garlic (minced)
1 Bay leaf
Olive Oil (for sautéing)
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
4qt stock pot (or sauce pan)

Rinse and drain the peas and chick peas and then set them aside.

Chop up the onion and the celery sticks. Pour a little olive oil in the pot and saute the onions over low to medium heat. After a few minutes, add in the celery and garlic and saute another couple of minutes.

Add the peas, chick peas and water to the pot. Stir to mix everything together and then bring the water to a boil. Add consomme - stir. Add the bay leaf.

Cover and turn heat down between low to medium so that the water stays at a simmer.

Let soup simmer for 1hr & 15 minutes.

Remove bay leaf and puree the soup using a food processor or blender. The soup should be really thick so once you pour it back into the pot, add 1-2 cups of hot water. Stir. If soup is still too thick, add more water until desired thickness is achieved.

Add salt & pepper. Serve.

Makes about 8-10  servings

(The longer the soup sits, the thicker it gets, so you can always thin the soup out by adding a bit of water to it before reheating it.)